Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RRU NEWS - Riverside County close to getting $2 million from #CalFire

#Wildfire #news
 "Cal Fire has indicated it will soon be proposing to provide about $2 million in budget relief," Riverside county CEO Bill Luna told supervisors last week".
Story at http://www.pe.com

Riverside County close to getting $2 million from Cal Fire

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County is close to receiving $2 million in financial relief from Cal Fire, a move the county's top administrator said will help bridge the fire department's $5.5 million budget gap.

The county contracts with the state agency for fire protection and for months has been concerned about the administrative fee Cal Fire charges.

A report in July concluded the county could save as much as $2.8 million if Cal Fire changed how it accounted for support personnel and overtime.

"Although we still have some ongoing debate on the finer points of the report, I am happy to say that Cal Fire has indicated it will soon be proposing to provide about $2 million in budget relief," county CEO Bill Luna told supervisors last week.

"That will go a long way toward closing the approximately $5.5 million structural gap we still have in that budget," he said.

"We appreciate the serious consideration that the (Cal Fire) director and his staff have given this matter and will continue to work with them to try and resolve it."

County spokesman Ray Smith said Monday that no agreement is in place yet.

He said he didn't have a specific breakdown of the $2 million, but much of it comes from whether certain personnel are funded by state or county funds.

Other savings could come from firefighter retirements, Smith said.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said the agency has met regularly with the county and has had "some very positive talks."

Cal Fire is currently working on an "appropriate balance" between the agency's direct and indirect personnel costs before finalizing an agreement with Riverside County, Berlant said.

"We are hoping to have it sooner rather than later, but there is not an exact deadline yet," he said.

Berlant also said there could be pension savings as newly hired Cal Fire workers have agreed to contribute more toward their own retirements.

The county's July report found that Cal Fire has 483 positions in Sacramento, in regional headquarters and at the local level that provide indirect services, such as human resources, fleet management, training and administration.

Four are assigned to Riverside County.

Of those 483 jobs, 118 are vacant. Transferring 10 to 12 of those positions to the Riverside County unit and filling them with local personnel could save the county between $1.5 million and $2 million a year, the report found.

In addition, the county's report found the administrative fees include charges for unplanned overtime. Eliminating that charge could save the county as much as $800,000 a year.

Source Article http://www.pe.com/localnews/stories/PE_News_Local_D_calfire21.27c4b39.html
Author Duane W. Gang at 951-368-9547 or dgang@PE.com

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